#UNSTICKYOURSTUCK

WHY MELISSA IS MY HERO

She actually did it!  She actually wrote a book- she didn’t just talk about it!  Accomplishing her dreams…setting plausible goals…and deadlines…THAT IS WHAT I HAVE STARTED DOING- my new goal for the end of May is to have the rest of ‘my’ account completed.

UNSTICK

…And now I better get to finish reading it!  It’s a great book, especially for me, who is a little without direction…

But at least I know what to do, after I finish writing/ babysitting/ caregiving- I am a great caregiver and I plan to return to that once I am done with my other responsibilities.  Although as my friend reminds me, I do have many other responsibilities other than working in a traditional day to day job (which is extremely stressful).  I am very active at my church,

I am a writer, I am a TBI advocate, I am a wife, I am a babysitter and caregiver, a mother to a precious fur baby, CHAZZ!

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One heck of a hot day

As taken from the Longwood University Alumni & Friends website:

 

“Oh my god, Oh my god, oh my god,” were the only words that were coming out of my mouth. As soon as I came out of the doors, my hand flew up to my face in disbelief, dropping my cane and sinking to the floor. This is not something that happens in real life, they must be shooting a movie.

Like a surreal bad dream, I couldn’t move, even if I tried I’d be too unsteady to even walk without the use of my cane. All I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and wait for this to pass over. We should have known something was up when out the window we kept hearing the wailing of fire engines and the racing lights, but actually seeing the buildings up in flames in combination with all the other stimulation would be enough to make anyone’s head spin. And it was my dorm, my part of the campus.

 

The day began like any other regular Tuesday in the middle of the ‘crunch’ week at Longwood College, the week before review week for final exams.

Content 1April 24th, 2001, when all the assigned papers and projects are due for the classes. I was so behind in studying, and writing papers; I had hit a writing block, so I decided to go to Lancer gym, to work out the frustrations. Upon walking across campus back ‘home’ (to my dorm room in South Ruffner) I was a big sweaty mess, having just worked out on top of the 3 week long heat spell that had been going on in Farmville, VA. It had been so dry, not raining in many weeks and was hot, even in the evenings.
Friends were going to a bible study, in Frazer Hall, and saw me approaching. Even though I had many assignments due, and gave excuses, (“I need a shower”, “no Bible with me”) they relented until I consented. You only go to college once, right? It was our last Bible study session until school let out, and all of the girls in the small group had become really close.
The Bible study session was pretty much a reflective session on the year, where we all shared important scriptures that stood out to us. We took an extremely long time praying, and kept on hearing the sirens of firetrucks passing by Frazer, not even thinking to look what was happening outside, but just continuing to praying about the firetrucks and who they were helping.

Finally exiting Frazer, ten minutes later, we saw my dorm building, South Ruffner, and the three neighboring buildings on FIRE! I don’t mean just a little fire, literally everything was up in flames. The fire had spread incredibly quickly and it was so hot outside that everything seemed to be ablaze.
Looking like a scene in a Terminator movie, it was incredible to see; I couldn’t believe this was the building where I live – my things were inside! As soon as we exited Frazer, out of the sliding glass doors, we saw everyone. All of the people standing on the steps, just watching the oldest buildings on campus as they were burning.

The over 150 year old ‘heart’ of our school was up in flames.

Danielle Karst ’05

Content 2I know it’s selfish, but the part that was the worst for me was that it was MY part of the school, my home, where I lived for so many months. The part of campus with which I was so familiar, I lived in South Ruffner, the freshmen female dorm building. The Great Fire destroyed West and Main Ruffner, as well as Grainger Hall, plus the fire on the top floor of South Ruffner, the dorm where I resided. However, the students living in the Colonnades (which included the original dorm buildings Hull and Tabb) were not allowed back into the building (duh, because they were on FIRE) and since I was living in South Ruffner and it was on fire, I was one of the students who could not get back in.

Here I was, a mess having just worked out, having a panic attack, and I was carried away by a friend – the students had to keep moving back, away from the fire.

Danielle Karst ’05

It was 12:30AM when I returned to campus in a friend’s room on campus. I was a big sweaty mess who smelled like smoke, I had to take a shower. The fire was still blazing, I don’t even know when it was finally extinguished, and where was my cane? A whole classroom building had burned to the floor, some students (like me) weren’t allowed back into their rooms; the administrators had no choice but to cancel the end of the year finals. We were left with the grades we had at at our interim review, and sent us all home. It’s a good thing, because I performed a lot better during the first half of the semester.

I don’t know how long I’ll live, but I will NEVER forget that day.

 

– See more at: http://www.longwood.edu/alumni/articles/2017/one-heck-of-a-hot-day/#sthash.O4b0Pf68.dpuf

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determination

#flashfriday

IMG_20170427_105650274

Just like the determined little turtle, I must go on.  This little guy may have pulled his head into his shell as my dog passed him and wanted to get at him while crossing this bridge (I had to Keep his leash so short and hold on to Chazz the dog so hard while he wanted to lunge at that turtle) but that turtle inspired me to actually open the Word document on my computer and get to typing my story.

[Which will be the first part of this book that I’m writing] 

 

 

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speed of race

 

#MondayMotivation 

But what is God’s path for me?

relay-race-competition-stadium-sport

Anyone have any answers? (I’m really wondering; this is not just a rhetorical question)  Let me create a list:

  • I’m currently writing; writing my personal story, for publication, (hopefully) to let others know what I have been through, and how tough the road can be.  If nothing else, for catharsis- but I think I have a plan for a guidebook for what to expect from a brain injury, or possibilities, as there is no constant answer as every brain injury is just as different as every person.
  • I am a compassionate person, 
  • I get paid for:
  • I babysit
  • and fill in on caregiving occasionally for an adult with an early onset form of dementia
  • I get a monthly paycheck for writing articles for the Longwood University alumni association website
  • I am scheduled to attend to a training course in June to volunteer at Fairfax hospital.  There I will be talking to other people in the trauma unit (it’s scheduled for every other week, but you just come when you can) 
  • I take care of Chazz my dog, but that isn’t a big deal, he’s just getting older and now needs to go on a midday walk
  • I try to clean the house and do all the laundry

 

pen-calendar-to-do-checklist

Please comment on this blog to let me know what you think God’s path is for me, email me:  daniellekarst920@gmail.com, FB me, whatever

 

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Dreaming

Trevor the Otter

Never give up on something you really want. It’s difficult to wait, but worse to regret. – Unknown

Peace out
Trevor the Otter

 

This is exactly the reason that I must get my book written- and written like now.

otter

The book that I am now planning on writing will share my in depth personal journey; and then it will focus on other traumatic brain injuries, as each injury is very individualized; none are the same.

Trevor the Otter says so.

Here’s too fulfilling dreams!
You can it! 

 

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Outdoor Beauty

What a beautiful day to be alive! 

I am very thankful for being alive after all I have been through!
Read my story right here

I am now much more admirable of the breathtaking aspects of nature of which many people take as commonplace, or wouldn’t give any thought or appreciation.
Walking Chazz is my favoririte timre of day

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I love it, because that’s the time of day I actually wonderfulwalk outdoors and admire God’s beauty.
Just walking through the neighborhood

I am so grateful for the opportunity to walk this great neighborhood, admire nature in all it’s beauty
and

just
breathe

Life is full of beauty if we stop and
SMELL THE FLOWERS

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#staytrue

As Icabod Crane reminds me:

It is seeing images as this to remind me to get myself BACK ON TASK,  and to do a lot less talking, AND A LITTLE MORE ACTION.

WHAT IF I THINK I’M STUCK?

Haven’t I been saying that a lot lately?

I have a good friend, who is a life coach, and is about to have a book that she wrote published.  She’s trying to help people (LIKE ME) find their purpose, and I need to find mine, after something life altering happened to me [ie…a car accident resulting in a traumatic brain injury].  Although it’s not like I need to RE-PURPOSE, because I was so young and still in high school, I didn’t ever figure out what I was doing.  The nursing home was a good place to start for me, although I was not aware that it would be so physically challenging.  Maybe I’ll revisit that option after I try something different.

Well it sounds just exactly she’s talking about me!  When she asked me if I could do anything I desired, without fear, what would it be?  It took me a while, but I remembered what else I’m passionate about: dog rescue.  Money automatically gets taken out of my bank account monthly to be donated to the ASPCA.

She suggested I think about volunteering at an animal shelter.  I contacted a woman whose mother was a resident at my nursing home a few years ago, who I knew was a prominent figure in the dog rescue and always ends up fostering dogs.  She told me that an orgainization to go to to help is the Fairfax County Animal Shelter.  (Which I was already thinking about since my good friend goes there and volunteers with the bunnies)

bunnybread

Last night I looked on the website, which said they are currently not looking for any volunteers, but referred to a facebook page where they will post the positions that are available to volunteer.  The only  thing that makes me nervous is that this is not based on what I continued my education, my major at Longwood University was Therapeutic Recreation.  But there are different types of animal therapy, that are very beneficial for all sorts of populations.  Children and people of all ages benefit from animal therapy. 

My friend also has suggested that I try volunteering at Fairfax hospital, where I was in the Intensive Care Unit after my car accident 20 years ago. You can volunteer to talk to patients in a trauma unit, and there is also a group of people who speak with different groups of people wanting to learn about the traumatic events that happened, and the injury resulting in order to better work with patients like us.  That seems gratifying to me. 

I need to get involved with something I am passionate about.  I already have a part time job, writing for Longwood University, and I am working on spreading traumatic brain injury awareness through my personal blog, and working on a memoir- or a “memoir” in quotations; there is always seems to be something that becomes a more urgent matter in the nearsight view.  It’s like memoir, ya, someday… Until then I’m keeping myself busy with church obligations, babysitting for my neighbors and caregiving.  Plus I like to stay  in shape by walking Chazz.

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 Chazz the dog.  My own sort of pet therapy, who is a true member of my family.

#3 Surround Yourself with people you love and respect.

 

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PRODUCTIVITY

productivity

[proh-duhk-tiv-i-tee, prod-uhk‐]
noun
1.

the quality, state, or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance, or bring forth goods and services

EVERYONE LIKES TO FEEL LIKE THEY HAVE SOMETHING TO GIVE, RIGHT? SOMETHING TO OFFER, A REASON TO PROVE EXISTENCE? 

I am working with a group of women on a Bible study, Your Sacred Yes, by Susie Larson  and am faced by a yoursacredyesquestion today.  BTW, I love this book and study thus far, it helps you to self examine motives for wasting your time or questioning s true purpose.  The question that intrigued me today is asking if we feel like we have a purpose;  I NOW feel like I was put on this earth for a purpose, to give others hints on succeeding even with an injury that makes everything difficult.  I have overcome, and I can use my experiences to help others succeed as well.

At the end of February, I went in to speak at a friend’s high school, about my traumatic brain injury, and the skills that helped me graduate high school.  The skills that I needed to learn to get through college, and how you need to assertively tell the staff how they can help you.  Once you have gotten into the special education program in high school, you are faced with a clean slate as a student going into college and you need to tell the staff at the school what you need, and a lot of the students who have grown up in a SPED setting, are not aware of how to advocate for themselves.  I am hoping to bring awareness on how to better adapt from high school to campus life in the future.

This Bible study has helped me to further reflect on God’s purpose for me, and if my daily actions keep his purpose first.  I believe that I am to record [by writing] all of my struggles as an example of how to Functionally succeed.  God definitely has a plan for me, and I am so *thankful* that He has helped me to recover and am so excited to discover what He plans to use me to help with next.

sun

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Surprise breakfast dates

Today is a day to be very thankful for good friends!  Aren’t friends the only thing to be thankful about? 

This morning when I was doing a morning devotional at 8AM [my Lenten sacrifice was daytime TV to give me more time to engage in reading God’s word; just not having the sound of the TV in the background just makes me feel more productive, maybe I’ll actually reach my goal of reading 18 books this year!]  I got a phone call from my good friend Lisa, asking if I was up and if I’d likewp-1489097228302.jpg to go to breakfast, and I never like to miss out on a social excursion.  Besides, breakfast is the most fabulous meal of the day! We go to First Watch with her two little guys that I babysit,
since we were up in that area, we stop by our favorite grocery store, Trader Joe’s where I run into my former neighbor from when we were living in Fairfax.  We got to catch up, share some good hugs and inquire about loved ones; I was very sad to learn that his wife has a very health condition.  The boys got their stickers and lollipops for behaving in the store.
Next stop, on the way to Starbucks with my good friend Melissa to work on our respective writing projects, where we bump into my yoga teacher, Amy!  Any good yoga teacher exudes a calming zen-like aura, that seems to linger the rest of the day.  Such a small world, I love knowing people and bumping into old friends- I’ve already had a full day, and it was only 1030 in the morning!  When I return home, I need to get dinner ready and enjoy with my FABULOUS husband, and then get to catch up on gossip at another coffeehouse with my crocheting friends!  

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The cards that life has dealt us…

#MONDAY MOTIVATION

The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.

 

Sometimes inspiring quotes are found on Twitter. 

I went to Centerville High School to talk to high school kids about myself, my accident story and recovery, the specific accommodations, helpful resources and strategies for learning that I  used after the accident that left me with a severe traumatic brain injury.  I went from being in General Education classes in high school to the Special Education classes I needed to take after my accident; adjusting was difficult.  The special education wing in my high school was located downstairs, where all the freshmen and sophomore classes were held, while all my friends were seniors and my new class, with who I was graduating were juniors and all were located upstairs.

I learned some study tips in high school, but I feel like learning coping mechanisms and strategies that work with my disability occurred mostly when I had started attending school at Longwood.  I was away from the sheltering of my parents and the high school that already knew me and my problems.  I shared with the high school students at CVHS the reason I personally selected Longwood University out of all the colleges that there are to attend.  I was looking for a school that would be able to work with strategies for my newly acquired learning disability and found Longwood University to have the most resourceful disability program in the state.

At Longwood, I found that writing what I needed to remember down was the most useful tool; using an actual planner to write EVERYTHING down, specifically due dates, flashcards and post-its for studying and repetition in all important information.  I shared some other tactics that had helped me, certain accommodations that were made and I spoke of the creative minds in Academic Support Center at Longwood who are willing to try different types of accommodations.  As a student, advocating for yourself is key; explaining what you need.  I shared with the high school-ers all the resources that were provided and what personally worked for me.  Just describing and sharing personal stories of Longwood to prospective students is a way of giving back to my Alma mater.   Giving back to Longwood is not all about donating monetarily after graduation, but possibly sharing your experiences and helping prospective students learn more about Longwood.

 

I am not afraid to admit that I was scared going to college away from home.  Although it was very hard, I ended up graduating high school, going on to spend 5 years and graduating college.  Longwood provided the most comfortable transition that I can imagine any school having.  Talking to the high school-ers with learning disabilities about the resources that the academic support center has available is a way to let the current high schoolers know of the resources that Longwood provides.  The staff at the Academic Support Center  is very welcoming and willing to work with any difficulties you may have- no matter what problems you may be having.  I went on to use many of the coping strategies at Longwood to help me in the world after school, working in the activity department at a nursing home for 9 years.  Who we are is what we do with what we have.  We must play with the cards that life has dealt us.

I won’t let a brain injury hold me down; we all must work with the cards that life’s dealt us- even if they don’t make sense at the moment, it’s all in God’s plan.

love

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